BATHERSON SCORES THREE, CANADA ADVANCE TO WJC FINAL
JASON LA ROSE
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Drake Batherson (New Minas, N.S./Cape Breton, QMJHL) led the offence with a hat trick, and Canada's National Junior Team moved into the gold medal game at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship with a 7-2 semifinal win over the Czech Republic on Thursday.
The Canadians will face Sweden in the final Friday (8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT), one win away from extending their own World Juniors record with a 17th gold medal.
Batherson scored three times in just under 19 minutes across the first and second periods, giving him five goals in two medal round games, and seven in all - good for the tournament co-lead.
The Czechs came out with jump and took an early lead when Filip Zadina cut to the middle of the ice and snapped a quick shot over the glove of Carter Hart (Sherwood Park, Alta./Everett, WHL) just six minutes in, but the Canadian power play took over from there.
Sam Steel (Sherwood Park, Alta./Regina, WHL) hammered in a one-timer to get Canada even with the man advantage at 15:05, and Batherson redirected a Cale Makar (Calgary, Alta./University of Massachusetts, HE) shot for another power-play marker at 18:08 and a 2-1 lead after one period.
The third Canadian goal was a carbon copy of the second, with Batherson getting his stick on a shot from Makar on the power play just shy of the eight-minute mark of the second period.
Maxime Comtois (Longueuil, Que./Victoriaville, QMJHL) finished a set-up from Brett Howden (Oakbank, Man./Moose Jaw, WHL) less than two minutes later and Jordan Kyrou (Toronto, Ont./Sarnia, OHL) outwaited Czech goaltender Josef Korenar at 12:15 before Batherson drove to the net to finish his hat trick at 16:58, chasing Korenar and making it a 6-1 game through 40 minutes.
The teams traded goals in the third; Boris Katchouk (Waterloo, Ont./Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) whipped in a wrist shot to convert the Canadian touchdown at 5:15, and Zadina knocked in a rebound with just under 10 minutes to go to provide the final margin of victory.
Canada is into the gold medal game for the 16th time in 23 tournaments since the IIHF adopted the playoff format in 1996. Friday will mark 10 years to the day that Matt Halischuk scored in overtime to give Canada a 3-2 overtime win over Sweden and its fourth-consecutive gold.